Monday, November 30, 2009

Saint Andrew's Day

Saint Andrew's Day is November 30, and even if you are not Scottish, it is a good excuse for a holiday season party. ( The flag of Scotland is the Cross of St. Andrew, and this is widely displayed as a symbol of national identity.) Because Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland, a proper celebration should have bagpipes, Scotch Whisky, and haggis. If you are apprehensive about haggis, at least make a meatloaf with both cut and rolled oats instead of bread for the filler.

My favorite poet, Robert Service, gets little or no respect from Professors of English; I think because he was a Scot, and possibly because he actually made a living writing poetry. In his collection of Bar-Room Ballads, published in 1940, Mr. Service uses the term Sassenach twice in one of his poems. This word is a Scottish/Gaelic term derived from an early word for Saxon. It is a somewhat derogatory term for anything English. Use of this word may be one of the reasons this successful and entertaining writer is still being snubbed for all of his works except for a few early poems about the Yukon Gold Rush.

Below is the offending poem; a great story to read on Saint Andrew's Day. Now pour a glass of good Scotch, crank up a CD of bagpipes, and enjoy a good story.

The Ballad of How MacPherson Held the Floor

Said President MacConnachie to Treasurer MacCall:
"We ought to have a piper for our next Saint Andrew's Ball.
Yon squakin' saxophone gives me the syncopated gripes.
I'm sick of jazz, I want to hear the skirling of the pipes."
"Alas! it's true," said Tam MacCall. "The young folk of to-day
Are fox-trot mad and dinna ken a reel from a Strathspey.
Now, what we want's a kiltie lad, primed up wi' mountain dew,
To strut the floor at supper time, and play a lilt or two.
In all the North there's only one; of him I've heard them speak:
His name is Jock MacPherson, and he lives on Boulder Creek;
An old-time hard-rock miner, and a wild and wastrel loon,
Who spends his nights in glory, playing pibrochs to the moon.
I'll seek him out; beyond a doubt on next Saint Andrew's night
We'll proudly hear the pipes to cheer and charm our appetite.

Oh lads were neat and lassies sweet who graced Saint Andrew's Ball;
But there was none so full of fun as Treasurer MacCall.
And as Maloney's rag-time band struck up the newest hit,
He smiled a smile behind his hand, and chuckled: "Wait a bit."
And so with many a Celtic snort, with malice in his eye,
He watched the merry crowd cavort, till supper time drew nigh.
Then gleefully he seemed to steal, and sought the Nugget Bar,
Wherein there sat a tartaned chiel, as lonely as a star;
A huge and hairy Highlandman as hearty as a breeze,
A glass of whisky in his hand, his bag-pipes on his knees.
"Drink down your doch and doris, Jock," cried Treasurer MacCall;
"The time is ripe to up and pipe; they wait you in the hall.
Gird up your loins and grit your teeth, and here's a pint of hooch
To mind you of your native heath - jist pit it in your pooch.
Play on and on for all you're worth; you'll shame us if you stop.
Remember you're of Scottish birth - keep piping till you drop.
Aye, though a bunch of Willie boys should bluster and implore,
For the glory of the Highlands, lad, you've got to hold the floor.


"The dancers were at supper, and the tables groaned with cheer,
When President MacConnachie exclaimed: "What do I hear?
Methinks it's like a chanter, and its coming from the hall."
"It's Jock MacPherson tuning up," cried Treasurer MacCall.
So up they jumped with shouts of glee, and gaily hurried forth.
Said they: "We never thought to see a piper in the North.
"Aye, all the lads and lassies braw went buzzing out like bees,
And Jock MacPherson there they saw, with red and rugged knees.
Full six foot four he strode the floor, a grizzled son of Skye,
With glory in his whiskers and with whisky in his eye.
With skelping stride and Scottish pride he towered above them all:
"And is he no' a bonny sight?" said Treasurer MacCall.
While President MacConnachie was fairly daft with glee,
And there was jubilation in the Scottish Commy-tee.
But the dancers seemed uncertain, and they signified their doubt,
By dashing back to eat as fast as they had darted out.
And someone raised the question 'twixt the coffee and the cakes:
"Does the Piper walk to get away from all the noise he makes?
"Then reinforced with fancy food they slowly trickled forth,
And watching in patronizing mood the Piper of the North.

Proud, proud was Jock MacPherson, as he made his bag-pipes skirl,
And he set his sporran swinging, and he gave his kilts a whirl.
And President MacConnachie was jumping like a flea,
And there was joy and rapture in the Scottish Commy-tee.
"Jist let them have their saxophones wi' constipated squall;
We're having Heaven's music now," said Treasurer MacCall.
But the dancers waxed impatient, and they rather seemed to fret
For Maloney and the jazz of his Hibernian Quartette.
Yet little recked the Piper, as he swung with head on high,
Lamenting with MacCrimmon on the heather hills of Skye.
With Highland passion in his heart he held the centre floor;
Aye, Jock MacPherson played as he had never played before.

Maloney's Irish melodists were sitting in their place,
And as Maloney waited, there was wonder in his face.
'Twas sure the gorgeous music - Golly! wouldn't it be grand
If he could get MacPherson as a member of his band?
But the dancers moped and mumbled, as around the room they sat:
"We paid to dance," they grumbled; "But we cannot dance to that.
Of course we're not denying that it's really splendid stuff;
But it's mighty satisfying - don't you think we've had enough?"
"You've raised a pretty problem," answered Treasurer MacCall;
"For on Saint Andrew's Night, ye ken, the Piper rules the Ball.
"Said President MacConnachie: "You've said a solemn thing.
Tradition holds him sacred, and he's got to have his fling.
But soon, no doubt, he'll weary out. Have patience; bide a wee."
"That's right. Respect the Piper," said the Scottish Commy-tee.


And so MacPherson stalked the floor, and fast the moments flew,
Till half an hour went past, as irritation grew and grew.
The dancers held a council, and with faces fiercely set,
They hailed Maloney, heading his Hibernian Quartette:
"It's long enough, we've waited. Come on, Mike, play up the Blues."
And Maloney hesitated, but he didn't dare refuse.
So banjo and piano, and guitar and saxophone
Contended with the shrilling of the chanter and the drone;
And the women's ears were muffled, so infernal was the din,
But MacPherson was unruffled, for he knew that he would win.
Then two bright boys jazzed round him, and they sought to play the clown,
But MacPherson jolted sideways, and the Sassenachs went down.
And as if it was a signal, with a wild and angry roar,
The gates of wrath were riven - yet MacPherson held the floor.


Aye, amid the rising tumult, still he strode with head on high,
With ribbands gaily streaming, yet with battle in his eye.
Amid the storm that gathered, still he stalked with Highland pride,
While President and Treasurer sprang bravely to his side.
And with ire and indignation that was glorious to see,
Around him in a body ringed the Scottish Commy-tee.
Their teeth were clenched with fury; their eyes with anger blazed:
"Ye manna touch the Piper," was the slogan that they raised.
Then blows were struck, and men went down; yet 'mid the rising fray
MacPherson towered in triumph - and he never ceased to play.


Alas! his faithful followers were but a gallant few,
And faced defeat, although they fought with all the skill they knew.
For President MacConnachie was seen to slip and fall,
And o'er his prostrate body stumbled Treasurer MacCall.
And as their foes with triumph roared, and leagured them about,
It looked as if their little band would soon be counted out.
For eyes were black and noses red, yet on that field of gore,
As resolute as Highland rock - MacPherson held the floor.


Maloney watched the battle, and his brows were bleakly set,
While with him paused and panted his Hibernian Quartette.
For sure it is an evil spite, and breaking to the heart,
For Irishmen to watch a fight and not be taking part.
Then suddenly on high he soared, and tightened up his belt:
"And shall we see them crush," he roared, "a brother and a Celt?
A fellow artiste needs our aid. Come on, boys, take a hand."
Then down into the mêlée dashed Maloney and his band.


Now though it was Saint Andrew's Ball, yet men of every race,
That bow before the Great God Jazz were gathered in that place.
Yea, there were those who grunt: "Ya! Ya!" and those who squeak: "We! We!"
Likewise Dutch, Dago, Swede and Finn, Polack and Portugee.
Yet like ripe grain before the gale that national hotch-potch
Went down before the fury of the Irish and the Scotch.
Aye, though they closed their gaping ranks and rallied to the fray,
To the Shamrock and the Thistle went the glory of the day.


You should have seen the carnage in the drooling light of dawn,
Yet 'mid the scene of slaughter Jock MacPherson playing on.
Though all lay low about him, yet he held his head on high,
And piped as if he stood upon the caller crags of Skye.
His face was grim as granite, and no favour did he ask,
Though weary were his mighty lungs and empty was his flask.
And when a fallen foe wailed out: "Say! when will you have done?"
MacPherson grinned and answered: "Hoots! She's only haf' begun."
Aye, though his hands were bloody, and his knees were gay with gore,
A Grampian of Highland pride - MacPherson held the floor.


And still in Yukon valleys where the silent peaks look down,
They tell of how the Piper was invited up to town,
And he went in kilted glory, and he piped before them all,
But wouldn't stop his piping till he busted up the Ball.
Of that Homeric scrap they speak, and how the fight went on,
With sally and with rally till the breaking of the dawn.
And how the Piper towered like a rock amid the fray,
And the battle surged about him, but he never ceased to play.
Aye, by the lonely camp-fires, still they tell the story o'er-
How the Sassenach was vanquished and - MacPherson held the floor.

Should'a Bought This Long Ago

video

I have been spliting wood the old fashioned way for forty years; with a Sotz Monster Maul since 1980. Splitting with a maul is good exercise, and you learn to read a chunk of wood pretty well, but this year I realized that my elbows needed some relief. We did some research online, and made the jump to a 35 ton gas powered splitter. Holy Cow, what a difference! We should have done this years ago. One big advantage of this machine is that we no longer have to pick up heavy pieces of wood. We can park the splitter near the downed tree, and then roll the wood to the splitter. Thirty-five tons is a lot of push, and we won't be leaving many hard-to-split rounds in the woods now. We have worked up four trees with this new machine so far, and it has been able to split every gnarly, knotty chunk that we have thrown at it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not My Victrola



24052 has posted "My Pretty Girl" from 1927 with a great slide show to energize you this week. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday, and can gather the strength you need to make it to Christmas and the New Year.

The Holiday Is Over!



Back To The Old Grind!

E-Postal Reminder

Click on the link on the left sidebar, or HERE, read the rules, print your targets, and go put some holes in paper. This is the last e-Postal match of the year, and the practice will do you good. EJ shot it while he was home, and I will have to re-shoot, because he stomped me with my pistol. The deadline to submit your target is midnight, Monday.

Weekend Recreation

There was a black oak tree failing in the back yard, and it was time to take it down before taking it down became dangerous to my health and well being. In this first photo I have just punched in to form the hinge on the heavy side of the tree, and am cutting toward the back of the tree with the top side of the bar. I then punched in on the other side of the tree to complete the hinge, and then cut back until my cuts matched up and the tree tipped.

EJ and I counted the rings, and this tree was about ninety years old. That is about the life span of a black oak, and is plenty old for one with people walking around under it. Click over to EngineeeringJohnson to watch it go down.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekend Steam



Bidone1967 is a YouTuber that we just met on the Internet, and I think that he lives in Germany. His videos are extra nice quality, and today's steam video, plucked form Bidone's channel, is a cute little English traction engine. I think this was filmed at a show in Germany, but since I can't read his notes, that's just an educated guess from clues in the video.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Crankin' It Up



"When My Baby Smiles" was recorded in January, 1920, and is an Irving Berlin song. It has always been one of my favorite records, and now that we have it on YouTube I can listen to it without changing a needle every play. We have company for the Thanksgiving weekend, so I am being lazy and re-posting this record rather than posting a new one. Next week we should have the True Blue Studio back in operation.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving To All Of Our Readers

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789." G. Washington

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Titan Engine At Old Threshers



This nicely restored IHC Titan engine was at Mt. Pleasant last September. You will note that it is very similar to the Mogul throttle governed engine that I videoed at Pinckneyville. Old machines like this are a joy to watch, with all of the parts exposed; just stay back and don't get your clothes caught in the revolving machinery.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Joy Of Gravel

We live on a gravel road, so we can count on picking up nails on a regular basis, especially after the road has been dragged by our road commisioner. When you discover a leaking tire, have a helper move the car until you have the hole exposed so you can work on it. Get your tire plugging kit out of your travel kit.

Pull the nail if it is still in the tire, then run your probe in the hole to make sure it is open for inserting a plug.

Thread a plug into the applicator tool.

Push the plug in with the applicator.

Leave a little bit of the tails sticking out.

Pull the applicator back out of the hole. The plug will stay behind, slipping out of the slit in the end of the applicator.

Air up your tire and you are ready to roll again. We usually go by a tire shop and have the tire dismounted and patched rather than run on plugs for very long. This set of tires will be replaced soon, so this plug will stay.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Mother Lode!

A cluster of oyster mushrooms like this one will gladden the heart of any woods worker, and these delicacies can grace your table any month of the year after rains dampen the wood on wounded or dying trees. I keep a sharp knife in my pocket just in case I run onto a batch of these beauties when I am out. I also keep string in my vest so I can lash my knife to a stick and reach mushrooms up the trunk too far for my arms.

Unfortunately, this batch of fresh, ultra-prime oysters was not in the woods; it was in the front yard of a home in Albion, Illinois. I went around the block, stopped and took my photos, and bid a sad good-bye to the best bunch of mushrooms that I have ever seen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not My Victrola



Pax41 keeps posting great copies of his music collection. "The Sweetest Story Ever Told" was recorded in July, 1917, so we know this is an acoustic recording. The clarity is amazing. The singer is Sophie Braslau; the conductor is Josef Pasternack.

Monday's Coming; But It's A Short Week

Back To The Old Grind!

Be VERY Quiet!

Firearm season for deer is going on this weekend in Illinois. This nice eight pointer is hanging out behind our barn, so I am not doing any plinking until next week. Our deer are pretty smart and they know that chainsaws, hammers, and Skilsaws are not threats to them, so we are able to work on the barn so long as we stay on the front side, and we don't venture out back. We have at least one hunter lurking on a boundary line who would love to take this buck home in the back of his truck, so we are being careful not to flush him out of our woods.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekend Steam

This Aultman-Taylor traction engine is an unusual design that stands out in the crowd if you know your steam engines. Most traction engines have a clutch with wooden shoes which grip the inside surface of the flywheel. This century old beauty uses a sliding pinion gear on the crankshaft to drive a bevel gear which transmits motion via a drive shaft to another pinion, which turns the differential.


Click the photos to enlarge them for a better view of the system. This drive system uses fewer parts than the typical engine of its day, and I am sure that there was much less clanking going on when starting and stopping.


You can see the back side of the crankshaft drive pinion in this photo. Aultman-Taylor engines used the Woolf reverse gear that you will also see on Case steam engines.
Photos by True Blue Team Member Engineering Johnson

Friday, November 20, 2009

Crankin' It Up



Snappy dance number (Fox-Trot) by the Manhattan Dance Makers, recorded on March 17, 1926. This is the flip side of "When The Golden Rod Is Blooming," a song we posted last year. Our good microphone is still away, so this one was recorded with our old mike. This record is loud and boisterous, so I think we can get away with using our tinny microphone, and we hope we will have the good one back soon. Shake a leg.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today In History

Go Here. It never grows old.

Econo Cases For Airline Travel

Here is a tip for travelers who cringe at the thought of paying big bucks for a TSA approved locking case for airline travel. All you need to convert a Ruger pistol case into a sturdy locking case is a drill, two long-shackled padlocks, and a stack of washers to take up the slack when the locks are snapped. The washers can be epoxied together so they don't scatter when you open the case for the TSA inspector. One or two of these can easily be packed in your suitcase for trips to far-flung shooting events. This is also a suitable solution for folks who need a locking case for land travel across state lines in vans or SUV's that don't have a trunk to lock up your guns. Hat tip to EJ!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Load Up!

November 19 is National Ammo Day! Click the pic to read about it, then go buy (at least)100 rounds.

Rescued Treasure

More than thirty years ago, a good friend of mine spotted this 10 HP Mogul engine, which was almost totally concealed by blackberry and trumpet-creeper vines, near Flat Gap, Kentucky. My friend was able to locate the owner, and after he made a deal, we loaded it on a borrowed truck and moved it to his home. It has been under cover ever since, but it never was restored.

Last summer at the Pinckneyville show I visited with the owner of the beautifully restored 4 HP engine shown in the video below. I mentioned the 10 HP engine in Eastern Kentucky, and he took down the contact info. I had a call a few nights ago from Jim (the 4 HP Mogul owner), of St. Peters, MO, and he is now the giddy owner of the 4000 pound, 10 HP Mogul. He made a deal over the phone with my old friend, and made the round trip from west of St. Louis to Johnson County, Kentucky to retrieve the very nice specimen of old iron. He is already well into the restoration process, and he expects to show it next summer. This old engine ran a stone buhr mill for grinding corn meal (and probably malted corn for whiskey) during its working years, and it also powered a generator to charge the batteries for a rural phone exchange.

The machinery on the 4 HP model operates the same as the 10 HP, and they have great appeal for old machinery aficianadoes. I hope these two are operating side by side next year at Pinckneyville.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Early Start



We started seeing Christmas decorations in the stores before Halloween this year. At least they waited until after Labor Day. Mr. McCurdy was on the town square in Washington, Iowa last Saturday, and even if Thanksgiving isn't here yet, his old tuba sounded pretty good. While I was taking his picture, my classmate from our one room school came by. We started school together 53 years ago. Visiting home makes you wonder where the years go.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hometown Visit

I stopped in to see my brother Chester while I was in Iowa to visit Mom. Chester is quite a craftsman, and can do all kinds of jewelry repair and construction. If I have to build or repair anything, I first look for ways to utilize a chainsaw in the process, so the skills my brother has are way out of my league. He showed me one of his torches: it has a TINY ruby tip, with a microscopic orifice, and the flame it produces is much smaller than a match flame. He does fine work.

Chester and his wife have built a thriving business, and he typically works at his bench six days per week. His motto is, "If you bought your jewelry from someone else, you paid too much!" Mom and I would have liked to stay and visit all day, but my little brother needed to get back to weighing his diamonds.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Not My Victrola



"A New Kind Of Love," sung by Maurice Chevalier has always struck me when I listen to it because Mr. Chevalier is such a happy sounding fellow. He was a Great War veteran who served in the French Army, was wounded, captured, and was a POW for two years. After the war he continued with his performing career, which was very remarkable. During WWII he made a deal to have some allied prisoners released from the same camp where he had been held, by performing there. While he worked in Hollywood for Paramount he did earn a reputation for being a penny pincher, bargaining the parking price down to a nickel from ten cents per day. According to the current philsophy being touted by the news media, Maurice should have been a murderous, misunderstood malcontent who's life was ruined by PTSD; instead, he was only slightly miserly. He was a remarkable man, and I think you will enjoy this song.

Mondays Are Piling On


Back To The Old Grind!

Not My Victrola



GramophoneShane posted this Rudy Vallee rendition of "As Time Goes By" on his YouTube channel. I think this is the first recording of this song I have heard with the verse. My dad's mother was Rudy's biggest fan. I can't listen to him without thinking of her.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekend Steam



Peerless engines are not very plentiful in the Midwest, but this nice one was running at the American Thesherman Show at Pinckneyville last August. It has a bit of a knock; I hope the owner has it fixed before he works this beauty.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crankin' It Up



"Tea For Two",from the 1925 musical, "No No Nanette" was the first record from our collection of old 78's that we posted on YouTube. We recorded it with our old microphone in front of our faithful Brunswick phonograph, which is the reason this recording sounds a bit tinny. Our new microphone, which does a much better job of picking up these old records from the megaphone is in the shop, because I tripped over the USB cable and it fell to the floor. Hopefully, in a week or two, the True Blue Recording Studio will be back in operation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Boldly Sawing

Chainsaws have been a part of my life, well, for a long time. I have been helping to promote chainsaw safety and modern cutting methods ever since my first safety course, and recently I helped with a training course for women at the Dixon Springs Ag Center. We spent most of the first day inside doing saw rehab and sharpening, and by the time we went outside, all twelve of the students were able to sharpen a saw with a jig, and also freehand.

Our first cutting exercise taught the students how to perform a bore cut. The bore cut is considered to be an advanced technique by some, but I teach it first, because the bore cut is what separates chainsaw use from axes and crosscut saws. Once students are proficient in bore cutting, they are able to use a chainsaw to its full potential, and they can set trees up to drop
safely and accurately.
This was an enthusiastic class, and during our next session everyone will learn the process of falling a tree, limbing, and bucking.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Project Valour-IT Fundraiser

(This post will remain at the top of the blog until November 12, so scroll down for new posts.) Soldiers'Angels 2009 Valour-IT Fundraiser is going on through November 11. Project Valour-IT helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries.



Photo Courtesey of Derek, The Packing Rat

If you are a regular reader of the gun blogs you have heard of the annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno. GBR is also a fund raising benefit for Valour-IT, and in the Packing Rat's photo from GBR-IV we see Major Chuck Ziegenfuss demonstrating a voice activated laptop for the GBR attendees. Valour-IT is one of many Soldiers' Angels projects that benefit wounded American heroes, so please follow the link in this post or on the sidebar, and make a donation.

Thank A Vet Today



God Bless the men and women who serve. 'The Big Parade' still rings true today, even though it was written shortly after the Great War that ended on November 11, 1918.

I wish life could be as simple and as sweet for our heroes as this next song from 1918 depicted the war in France. One of my high school teachers served in an anti-arcraft artillery unit in England during WWII. The personal experience he shared with us about war was his uncle, a WWI vet. The uncle lived with my teacher's family while he was growing up. The uncle's life was a constant struggle to cough up stuff from his lungs, and fighting for breath, because he was gassed while he was in France. Don't forget; thank a veteran!



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

October e-Postal Match Results!

US Citizen has posted the scores of the October contest, and EJ came in with a respectable second place after Mr. Completely in Class 1 pistols! Click Here to go to Traction Control to see the numbers. Be sure you check out these scores; Merle entered fourteen sets of targets, all with very respectable scores.

Decision Time

From the WFIWRADIO website: "The White Squirrel population in Olney is down this year. After a three week census was conducted by volunteers, it was revealed only 111 albino squirrels - a decline of nearly 18%. The number of cats in Olney was up by 11%. Cats are a natural enemy of the town's white squirrel population."

This doesn't look difficult, but don't expect a call to action. The reporter who wrote this will probably be called on the carpet for using the word "enemy."

The United States Marine Corps: 234 Years Today!

Click over to Curtis Lowe's blog to join in the celebration.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Maybe I Can Get A Grant!


I had the opportunity to help with mopup on a little forest fire last week, just as it was getting dark one evening. This snag was burning, and was leaning into another burning snag. The firefighters on the scene knew that they wanted them down because both trees were very close to their fire line, but were hesitant to start cutting. There was plenty of potential here for a cutter to be hurt, but the process turned out OK, and I think I could sell this as artwork to some museum, judging from some of the modern sculptures I have seen in recent years.

If you are faced with a lodged snag, do not work under it, or try to drop the tree it is leaning against. If you do that, you are the mouse in the trap. The quickest way to take down a tree like this is to make vertical cuts downward, using wedges in the top of the cut to keep the kerf open. Work on the good side of the snag so that if the top comes down it falls away from you, and be poised for a quick exit at the end of every cut. You only have a second or less to be out of the impact zone if a limb drops out of the top when the trunk ka-chunks down. Keep all of the other people on the scene back a safe distance, and remember to re-evaluate the situation and state the plan to yourself before each cut. Dope out snags carefully so that you are on the good side when you turn one loose, whatever type of cut you are using. When the hinge fails, (eventually one will when you cut snags.) you want to be on the good side, and well out your escape route.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Not My Victrola



Pax41 posted this delightful 1910 recording of 'The Glow-Worm' played by the Vienna Quartet. ( Violin, Flute, Piano, Cello). I think we have an Edison record of this song played on a Xylophone; I will have to do a search for it. When I think of this song I automatically think of Spike Jones and the recording he made during the 1940's. Here is a video posted by Adelfred that shows us the antics that went on during Spike's live performances.

Another Monday, Coming Right Up

Back To The Old Grind!

Snakes Alive!

My opinion of rattlesnakes was colored early in life by western movies and TV shows that always depicted rattlers in a very negative light. I have only run into one rattlesnake while working, and I didn't give it a chance let me know its disposition. A family vacation among rattlers several years ago changed my attitude about rattlesnakes. Every campsite we used for a week was populated by rattlesnakes, and we quickly learned that they would slither away from us if we gave them a chance, and just left them alone. Of course, we always kept the tents zipped shut, and used a light if we had to go out at night.

Ernie Pyle told in his writings that he wasn't afraid of being bitten by a snake; he was afraid of SEEING a snake. Knowing how Ernie felt about snakes, the post he wrote in Chapter VI of "Home Country" must have been a white knuckle experience.

Cactus Country

Rudy Hale and his wife lived alone back of their little store fifty miles east of Yuma, and there was no one else for miles. Three steps from their door and you were ankle deep in bare sand. The Hales caught live rattlesnakes for a living. To me that would be ten thousand times worse than death. But they enjoyed it.

The Arizona sands are filthy with rattlers. Rudy and his wife worked the desert for snakes as a farmer works his land for crops. Rattlers built them a place to live, rattlers kept them in food and clothing, rattlers provided the start for their little gas and grocery business. The loved rattlers.

Rudy was born in Illinois of German parentage, and he still had an accent. He was brought up with the idea of being a surgeon. A relative sent him to school abroad and he studied medicine in Austria for years. When the relative died, his schooling stopped and his life turned.

He wound up in California, where he worked for twenty years as a master mechanic. Then carbon monoxide laid him out and he went to the Arizona desert for his health. It was after two years there that the Hales came right up against it and had to turn to snakes for a living.

They started out by advertising in a San Diego paper. Before they knew it they were swamped with orders. They sold snakes to zoos all over the country, to private collectors, to medical centers for serum, to state reptile farms, to the Mayo brothers. "They say there aren't snakes in Ireland," said Mrs. Hale. "But I know there are, because we've shipped snakes to Ireland."

They didn't even use forked sticks to catch snakes-just picked them up with bare hands and put them in a box slung over the shoulder. They usually hunted snakes for an hour after daylight and an hour before dark. In eight years they had caught approximately twenty thousand rattlers. Rudy had caught as many as fifty sidewinders in one hour's hunting. They had the desert cleaned almost bare of snakes for twenty miles around.

There are twelve species of rattlers in that part of Arizona. The sidewinder is the most deadly, and the Hales specialized in sidewinders. They used to get fifty cents apiece for them. "I just wish I could get fifty cents agian," Rudy said. "They're down to twenty cents now." The most he ever got for a snake was seven dollars; that was a rare Black Mountain rattler. He said the huge snakes didn't bring as much as medium-sized ones. They were harder to keep in captivity, and zoos didn't want them.

Hale had caught rattlers as big around as his leg. He had caught them so big that they'd overpower him and pull his arms together, and he'd have to throw them away from him and then pick them up and try again. "I'm careful not to hurt a snake,' he said. "Any snake I ship is a good healthy snake."

Both Hale and his wife would let rattlers crawl all over them. She even carried them around in her pockets. Neither of them had ever been bitten, but her brother had. He was bitten five times, quick as a flash, by a nest of sidewinders. He didn't say a word-just went and lay down in the sand, flat on his back. stretched out his arms, shut his eyes, and lay there still as death for half an hour. Then he went back to work. Nothing ever happened. The Hales said that most people who died of snakebite really died of fright. Mrs. Hale's brother sat down on a rattler once. One time Rudy himself stepped right into the middle of a huge coiled rattler; his foot slipped and fell down among the coils, but for some reason he wasn't bitten.

There's no danger if you wach your business, Hale said. You mustn't be thinking about anything else when you're picking up a sidewinder. He said the hand was quicker than a snake's strike, and if you missed him the first grab you could jerk back in time. Lots of times when they saw a rattler coiled they would just ease up and slide a hand through the sand under it and lift it up right in the palm of the hand, still coiled.

Rudy had only one sidewinder on hand the day I was there. It was in a roofless concrete tank behind the house. He took me out for a look after dark and turned on a dim little electric light. He took a stick with a nail in it and got the sidewinder hooked over the nail, and had it lifted almost to the top of the tank. Just then his little red dog stuck it cold nose up my pants leg. I let out a yell and landed somewhere way over the other side of Gila Bend, and never did go back after the car."

Excerpt from "Home Country" by Ernie Pyle, William Sloane Associates, Inc., New York, 1947

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Weekend Steam

This Harrison Jumbo engine at Pinckneyville is only the third traction engine of this model that I have seen. One is at Old Threshers at Mt. Pleasant, and the second one was on a side road off of US Highway 63 between Columbia and Jeff City, Missouri. The Jumbo and a Frick engine were occupying an abandoned home site, and were both quietly oxidizing in the early 1970's when I was going to college at Mizzou. By the time I graduated both engines had disappeared, I hope to an engine fancier and not a scrapper.



The tall side mounted rear wheels give this engine a distinctive appearance, and the front mounted water tank really sets it off from the crowd at an engine show.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crankin' It Up



The change to Dark Time is taking some effort for me this year; I can't seem to be able to reset my body clock. That got me to thinking about Harry Lauder and "It's Nice To Get Up In The Morning," so we are doing a re-post of this great song. Good Nicht!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Range Buddies

I went out behind the barn to pop some caps a few days ago, but the range was already occupied. Oh Well, I took the guns back to the house and sat out front to enjoy the view. Everybody won.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Prime and Start



One of the accessories you will see on old gas engines is the priming cup. It is a little brass petcock with a cup on the top, which is screwed into a port on the combustion chamber with a tapered pipe thread. Before cranking, you open it with the lever on the side, and squirt or pour a little gasoline into the cup to charge the cylinder. You will see the operator perform the routine in this brief video.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Not My Victrola



EdmundusRex has posted a great jazz tune from the Roaring Twenties! According to the writeup and comments on his YouTube channel, "Early Every Morn" was recorded at Gennett Records, New York, December 12, 1924.
Louis Armstrong (cornet) Charlie Irvis (trombone) Sidney Bechet (clarinet,sax) Lil Hardin (piano) Buddy Christian (banjo) Alberta Hunter (vocals)

Monday's Coming, Ready Or Not

Back To The Old Grind!

The Final 2009 e-Postal Contest Is On!

Danno of Sand Castle Scrolls is the host of Mr. Completely's November e-Postal Contest. Click over to his blog to read the rules and to download his target, then take family and friends to the range for practice and friendly competition. You also have until November 9 to enter the October contest, so you can make a twofer out of one trip to your shooting range. Danno tells us that "Live And Let Die" was the first Bond film he saw in a theater. He is making me feel old; my first Bond film was "Goldfinger."